Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.
–1 Timothy 4:7
It was Dr. E. M. Blaiklock, professor of classics at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, who said, “Of all the intervening centuries, the twentieth is most like the first.” Of course, the twenty-first century would fit this statement even more. Of the centuries, the twenty-first century is most like the first century. As pastor and author Ray Stedman explained, “Once again, Christians are a small minority in the midst of a despairing and pagan world, and they are confronted on every side with violence, hostility, ignorance, widespread immorality, and existential despair. They are thus thrust back into the very climate of the first century where the events and triumphs of the book of Acts occurred.”
It doesn’t take the words of a learned professor for us to realize that we are living in a perverted, chaotic world in which we as Christians are a shrinking minority. Yet in spite of that, Jesus said, we are to be light and salt in a dark world that has lost its thirst for God. How do we go about doing that? In Philippians 2, Paul gave us the keys to living a godly life in a godless world.
Paul began this chapter by talking about how to keep people from robbing you of your joy. How can you have joy despite difficult people? You change your attitude about people. Instead of using people, start serving people. Have the same humility in your life that Jesus had. Remember what Jesus did? He put our interests above His own. He submitted His will to God’s will. He was willing to go through temporary pain for an eternal reward. That’s what humility is. Paul said, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). And that’s what obedience is. It has no limits. Paul said, “If you are going to have humility, you need to be willing to obey God to the extreme.”
But Paul was a wise teacher. He knew that a good example might inspire us, but it wouldn’t be enough to enable us to live an obedient life. So starting with verse 12, Paul took us out of the heavenlies and came down to earth. Do you long to see God work supernaturally in your life? Do you want to have victory over sin? Do you want to break a bad habit or change a relationship that is destroying you? In Philippians 2, Paul gave us some practical guides about how we can become obedient just as Jesus Christ was.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Godly Living in a Godless World” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.
Dr. E. M. Blaiklock, quoted in Ray Stedman, “Body Life” (Glendale, CA: Regal, 1972), 129.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.